Shooting death of a woman was tough on officer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005



LAPLACE — When you consider the day-to-day encounters faced by police officers, it can be mind boggling to see how anyone could deal with the death, tragedy and violence so frequently.

But topping the list of the difficult challenges certainly has to be the act of shooting and killing another individual.

A 47-year-old LaPlace police officer recently went through such a situation, and found himself suddenly facing the second guessing that goes with it. For several days, he admitted he had problems trying to come to grips with just what had happened, and whether he could have done anything differently.

“As soon as you do something like that, you go home and start thinking about it,” he said. “I pretty much saw my whole life flash before my eyes.”

The incident occurred when a call came in to the office that a woman was threatening suicide. When the officer arrived at the scene, the woman was in the house.

“I finally talked her into changing clothes and coming to the hospital where we could get some help for her, since she said she didn’t want to live due to her back pain problems from an accident, followed by surgery that didn’t help,” he said. “Looking back,I probably should have just made her come with me even in her night clothes.”

Instead, the woman went to the back of the house to change and then yelled back to the officer in a threatening voice.

“The voice she used really sounded just like the person in the Exorcist,” he recalled. “She told me to get out of her house, but using some different words than that.”

“I was at the end of the hall and when she stepped out where I could see her, I saw something in her hand, which she raised as if she was going to shoot me,” he said.

That’s when he fired and killed the woman, later finding out she did, in fact, have a fully loaded gun in her hand. The shooting was ruled justifiable.

“I stayed home for four days and got counseling, but the more experienced officers just told me that the best thing to do was come back to work as quickly as possible,” he said. “And for me, I at least got over it since I had 87 e-mails when I got back to my office, giving me a lot of support.”

He was especially surprised in later weeks when he was contacted by family members of the woman, who said she had been threatening the same thing for a long time and they didn’t blame him for what happened.

“They told me that if it hadn’t been me there, it would have been someone else,” he said. “So that helped me get through it. But for four or five days, it was a rocky time for me just trying to not keep second guessing what I could have done differently. I was just lucky in the whole thing since I got support, which not all cops get in that situation from the family.”